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As complaints pile up, Greenwich looks at limiting short-term rentals like Airbnb

Greenwich Municipal Center Historic District, Connecticut
Kenneth C. Zirkel
Wikimedia Commons
Greenwich Municipal Center Historic District, Connecticut

Greenwich, Connecticut, is looking to get more strict with short-term rentals after dealing for months with complaints from neighbors of these properties. The town's proximity to New York City makes its Airbnb and other fast lodging options popular choices.

At a recent meeting, members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission drafted the new rules for landlords. Katie DeLuca, the town planning director, said Greenwich wants to redefine what it considers to be a short term rental and limit how long guests can stay.

“We decided that what would be best for Greenwich would be to simply define it and to define what it is not,” DeLuca said. “So, what we did along those lines is we defined it as a temporary rental of partner all of residential property for fewer than 30 consecutive nights in a row in all zones provided that there's a certificate of occupancy.”

“It is not for parties, receptions, weddings, filming, photoshoots, corporate retreats and fundraising,” she said.

Short-term rentals have been a hot debate in Connecticut towns.

In late 2020, Greenwich held a workshop on short-term rentals where residents had complaints. Since then, town planners have been looking into what other cities have been doing with short-term rentals in their communities.

Hartford and West Haven have already enforced stricter regulations on short term rentals. New London and Stamford have plans of their own, too.

“I do know that people have gone as far as doing nothing all the way to having a registration system where people with short-term rentals have to register the rental,” DeLuca said. “There's other instances where people are only able to rent out a certain number of times a year.”

According to Airbnb, Greenwich has about 300 short-term rental properties. The average nightly price in Greenwich is around $213 per night.

Manny Capellan, public policy manager for Airbnb, said they expect anyone who uses the online rental marketplace to find a place to stay or to rent their homes to follow local laws. He said the company also provides towns and cities a Neighborhood Support Line and offers an online portal for law enforcement.

“We look forward to working with Greenwich officials as they develop short-term rental policies and have taken a number of industry-leading steps to ensure the safety and security of our community — including banning 'party houses' and parties,” Capellan said in a statement.

Other popular Airbnb spots near Manhattan and the Hamptons have also limited short-term rentals because of pressure from local residents.

“We did hear of the other options that people were pursuing,” DeLuca said. “None of which seemed to be appropriate for us since they seemed to take it to places that we just didn't think were necessary based on the number of complaints we were getting.”

Natalie is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.